One dead in fire at Overland Towers apartments for low-income elderly

One person died Monday afternoon in a fire in an Overland Park apartment high-rise that is home to mostly elderly and low-income residents.

Fire crews rushed to the Overland Towers apartments about 2:30 p.m. at 8580 Farley St. where a unit on the second floor of the eight-story building was burning, Overland Park Fire Department spokesman Jason Rhodes said.

An adult female was found dead in the burning apartment as other residents were evacuated from the building. Emergency services were helping evacuees, many of whom, Rhodes said, have “significant health issues and challenges.” Two residents were taken to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation.

The identity of the resident who died was being withheld until relatives could be notified.

The fire was reported out by 3 p.m., and Rhodes said the fire had been contained to the apartment unit where victim died. Evacuated residents were being sheltered inside the lower level of the apartment building, and the fire department expected that all residents could return to their rooms Monday night. Lenexa and Johnson County emergency crews also responded to the fire.

Claudette Brown, a resident who has lived in Overland Towers apartments for seven years, said she was leaving the building for the night with her dog due to the fire and planned to stay with her grandson. She described a scene of panic among the apartment community during the incident Monday. Some residents, she said, are unable to walk; others use wheelchairs or walkers.

“What I saw and what I heard was a lot of scared people, a lot of scared people who didn’t know what to expect or what was happening,” Brown said. “We have a loudspeaker community-wide throughout the building and they told them to get out, ‘Get out of the building.’”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Kaitlyn Schwers: 816-234-7909, @kaitlynschwers